Education news last week ran the gamut from good (Newark’s improving PARCC results) to worrisome (Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed changes to the student funding formula). Some recurring themes that have been echoing from week to week, such as charter schools, access to quality college advising for low-income students and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), cropped up again.




National Organization to Work with Four NJ Communities to Improve STEM Education 
The New Jersey STEM Pathways Network chose four communities, including Newark, NJ, to work with a national organization that will show them how to provide the STEM education and experiences students need to succeed in college, career, and life. The Newark STEAM Coalition’s goal is to develop Newark’s future STEM/STEAM workforce by closing education, access and opportunity gaps through collaborations among businesses, institutions of higher education, school district leadership, youth service providers, science and cultural institutions, and workforce development agencies to align STEM/STEAM education with New Jersey’s projected economic growth.

Newark School Board Ends One Newark Universal Enrollment
A majority of NPS Board of Education members voted last week to end the One Newark Plan's Universal Enrollment (ONPUE). This part of the One Newark Plan launched by former NPS Superintendent Cami Anderson was to be a one-stop registration and transfer center among NPS schools and participating charter schools. The vote was a response to quality and customer service complaints from parents and caretakers.

NPS PARCC Results Show Continued Improvement
For the second year in a row, PARCC results showed gains in both Math and English Language Arts (ELA) across the district. District administrators are working with academic leaders to share specific classroom strategies that will help teachers build on the upward trend.

Newark’s Cruz Selected as One of Just 15 ‘Afterschool Ambassadors’ in United States This Year
Sarah Cruz, Special Assistant for Expanded Learning Time at NPS, is one of only 15 leaders nationwide selected to serve as a 2016-2017 Afterschool Ambassador. In this role, she will continue her work with the NPS’ local afterschool program while also organizing public events, communicating with elected officials and policy makers, and growing support for afterschool programs in other ways.

Newark to Hire 60 Part-Time School Crossing Guards
Budgets allow for 161 positions for school crossing guards throughout the city, but years of attrition have seen these numbers dwindle to 101. Guards will work near elementary and middle schools at intersections that a traffic study identified as problem areas.


Getting Kids Ready for Kindergarten is Topic of Sessions
A recent professional development session for directors and other early educators from Hunterdon and other counties focused on the topic of kindergarten readiness. The session was a chance to share proven best practices as identified by Grow NJ Kids, a state-sponsored initiative to raise the quality of childcare and early learning throughout the state.

N.J. Advances 4 New Charter Schools, Denies 3
The State Department of Education advanced four charter school applications to the final round of state review but denied three others. If the four schools that advanced last week win final approval, it will bring the total number of charter schools in New Jersey to 92.

Teachers' Union Votes 'No Confidence' in Paterson Superintendent
The union that represents teachers in Paterson issued a unanimous vote of "no confidence" in the district's superintendent on Wednesday, citing what they believe are serious security risks posed to students.

N.J.'s Poorest County Seeks to Avoid Loss of $168M in School Aid Under Christie's Plan
Governor Chris Christie’s proposed revisions to the school funding formula would have a devastating effect on Cumberland County, reducing aid by many millions of dollars in some districts. School officials are supporting State Senate President Steve Sweeney's proposed legislation, SCR119, which establishes a State School Aid Funding Fairness Commission.

These 10 N.J. Schools Earn Blue Ribbon Honors
Ten schools in New Jersey have been chosen as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, a recognition celebrating excellence in academics. The list, which is comprised of six public schools and four private schools, includes Essex Fells Elementary School and St. Cassian Elementary School, both in Essex County.


U.S. Department of Education Awards More Than $6.5 Million in Grants to Help Schools and Communities Promote Equity in Education
The U.S. Department of Education is awarding more than $6.5 million in grants to fund four regional Equity Assistance Centers to support schools and communities creating equitable education opportunities for all students. The centers will provide technical assistance in areas including desegregation of public schools (based on race, national origin, sex and religion) and developing methods for coping with special educational problems caused by desegregation, while also providing resources and training to combat issues such as hate crimes, implicit bias, racial prejudice and bullying.

Graduation Rates Climb to an All-Time High at D.C. Public Schools
The number of students finishing high school on time in D.C. Public Schools reached an all-time high last spring with 69 percent of seniors earning diplomas within four years. While graduation rates are seen as an important measure of how well a system is preparing its students for college and careers, district officials nevertheless acknowledged that achievement is still low for some schools and that reaching graduation does not necessarily mean that students are prepared for life after high school.

The First Lady’s New Tool for Students: Up Next
In schools serving predominantly low-income students there are more than a thousand students for every counselor, which is why First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Better Make Room initiative. One of the initiative’s flagship offerings is Up Next, a national mobile messaging campaign that provides assistance with college search and applications, federal student aid and student loan repayment.

Single-Gender Schools Prove Best for Some Students
Several urban districts, including Dallas, Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, have opened new single-gender public schools this school year as a way to provide more options for families, attract parents who might otherwise leave for charter, private, or suburban schools, and increase access to specialized academic programs. While single-sex schools have their advocates, they have proven controversial and critics question their effectiveness.

Significant Education Cases on Supreme Court Docket
The U.S. Supreme Court is still feeling the effects of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but for K-12 education, the new term may be the most significant in years. The justices have agreed to hear two cases involving students with disabilities and another that could be significant for government aid to religion.

ESSA Clears Out Underbrush on School Improvement Path
The new Every Student Succeeds Act, the latest revision of the nation's main K-12 education law, gives local leaders a freer hand when it comes to fixing their problem schools. State and district officials are hoping the changes will spur fresh thinking when it comes to improving student performance and give educators a greater sense of ownership over school improvement efforts, even as they work through tricky implementation issues.

Patriotism and Protest Under Friday Night Lights
Inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s act of protest, students nationwide are dissenting from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and standing for the national anthem. The objection to patriotic gestures has a long, complicated history in public schools, and these most recent acts have ignited a fresh debate on patriotism, protest and student rights.

The Ticking Clock of Teacher Burnout
American teachers spend significantly more hours in the classroom than their international counterparts, but research—and test scores—show that having more time for collaboration and assessment benefits teachers and adds to their career longevity.

Questions Of Race And Charter Schools Divide Education Reformers
The Movement for Black Lives’ (M4BL)—an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement—recent call for a moratorium on new charter schools finds both support and dissent in the national educational leadership community.

Teaching Middle-Schoolers Climate Change Without Terrifying Them
Research shows that half of U.S. science teachers spend less than two hours each year discussing climate change in the classroom. One teacher in Miami decided to put the issue front and center by taking a positive approach and encouraging her students to make positive changes at school and at home.